Friday, 28th April, 2023

[Day 1138]

Today dawned quite bright and clear and there were several things to which to look forward. Of course, the weather being quite bright although slightly on the chilly side always helps to improve the mood. Friday is the day when our domestic help calls around and we were particularly looking forward to a chat this morning as last week, it was a quick ‘Hello and Goodbye’ to her before we set off for Cheltenham to see Meg’s cousins. After exchanging our news, we made for Waitrose as we knew we would have a meeting with our University of Birmingham friend which is rapidly becoming the norm for our Friday mornings. This was a jolly occasion as always and we chatted about our various comings and goings during the past few days. We needed to buy some bread and was delighted when the Waitrose staff took several high quality loaves and marked them down to 50p – they are going straight into the freezer in any case and we extract one slice at a time when we need it which stops the rest of the bread going mouldy and having to be thrown away. When we got home, we discovered that it was our domestic help’s wedding anniversary the following day. By good fortune we had one or two little items some of which we had just bought on a whim, others of which we had in stock so she had a little bundle of things with which to go home and to contribute just a few rays of sunshine to her wedding anniversary celebrations. This afternoon, I completed putting some refining touches to the configuration of audio that we have in our various living rooms and have now reached the stage where no further improvements can be made. Of course, Monday is a Bank Holday but we have no plans to go anywhere or do anything except that we may take the opportunity to get some gardening done, if the weather improves and we have a nice warm spell. I think that if you can have a good go at any perennial weeds before May appears, then it saves an enormous amount of remedial work later in the season, and vice versa.

Of course, next weekend is the day of the Coronation followed by another Bank Holiday. Our University of Bormingham friend pointed out to us the official ’emblem’ I suppose you could say of the Coronation and we spent one or two minutes decoding rhe elements of it. The first thing to be noticed in the emblem are Scottish thistles at the two ends of a diagonal. Using this as a cue, it becomes evident that the other diagonal has a daffoldil at each end (for Wales) Along the bottom are a row of Irish shamrock and then, you might say, is the Tudor Rose which is placed atop all of the other elements. The Tudor rose (sometimes called the Union rose) is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England and takes its name and origins from the House of Tudor, which united the House of Lancaster and the House of York. The Tudor rose consists of five white inner petals, representing the House of York, and five red outer petals to represent the House of Lancaster.

There are two big political stories today. The first of these occurred this morning as soon as the report was published on the conduct of the BBC Chairman, Richard Sharp, who subsequently resigned. An independent report found he broke the rules on two occasions by failing to disclose the role he played in helping Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan. Adam Heppinstall KC’s review found the former Conservative donor twice breached the code governing public appointments, risking the perception he was not independent from the then-prime minister. Most informed commentators thought that Sharp was almost bound to resign as soon as the report was published. The interesting thing about this case is that Sharp himself was adjudged to be ‘guilty’ and had fallen on his swords as the ancient Romans used to do. However, it was Boris Johnson’s government that engineered and recommended to the Selection Board that Sharp be appointed in the first place, so should the government not itself be censored for trying to ‘nobble’ the impartiaity of the BBC? It seems a strange quirk of the British constitution that the Chairman of the BBC whose role it is to maintain the independence of the BBC should be appointed by the Prime Minister of the day who has an evident interest in making sure that the BBC is at least ‘on side’ and does not overtly criticise the Government of the day.

The second big news story is that a policy of ‘divide and rule’ is seen as paying dividends for the government in their dealings with the Health unions in their dispute over pay. Members of the GMB unions have voted narrowly to accept the Government’s pay offer whilst members of the other two unions, Unison and the Royal College of Nursing have voted equally narrowly to reject the offered deal. What happens now is slightly unclear but it may be that the GMB ‘vote’ outweighs the other two and the pay deal is enforced upon the whole of the NHS striking workers. The situation may clarify in a few days time but ‘divide and rule’ seems to be the order of the day.